15 September 2019

Bar regulator announces changes to the Bar Course Aptitude Test for 2016 and 2017

9 March 2016

Further to the BSB's last announcement in December 2015, the regulator has concluded its review into the role of BCAT.

The review involved careful analysis of how students performed on the BPTC, and then compared it with their scores on the BCAT. The review used performance data from students who took BCAT in 2013, its first year of operation, and how they performed in the BPTC in 2013/14. 

The main finding was that a student's BCAT score (their actual score, not simply whether they passed or failed), strongly predicts their performance on the BPTC. Furthermore, the BCAT score is a reliable indicator of a student's success on the BPTC over and above degree institution and degree classification alone.

For further information about the review please read this summary.

As a result of this review, the BSB has concluded that the BCAT should proceed in 2016 and 2017, but with some important changes.

First, and from 2016 onwards, all students will be provided with their actual BCAT score together with an indication of what this means for their likely success on the BPTC. Previously, students have only been given a "pass/fail" indicator.

The data that we have gathered provides rich evidence upon which students can make informed decisions about whether to proceed with their BPTC. The Test will be reopened (for 2016 BPTC entry only) on 4 April 2016.

The data analysis has also provided a strong evidence basis for making changes to the pass mark. On first implementation in 2013, a cautious approach had been taken to avoid the risk of a disproportionate effect on students from non-traditional backgrounds. As a consequence of this approach, BCAT's current pass mark has not had the desired effect of eliminating students who are not likely to do well in the BPTC. We have now identified that the Test pass mark can be raised from 37 to 45 without a significant adverse effect on students from non-traditional backgrounds.

The purpose of increasing the pass mark is to exclude students who are not likely to succeed in the BPTC.

Based on the evidence,from 2017the BCAT pass mark will increase to 45, subject to approval by the Legal Services Board. When considering when to introduce the increased pass mark, the BSB was mindful of students already planning for the BCAT and BPTC in 2016.

BSB Director of Education and Training Dr Simon Thornton-Wood said: "The BCAT is proven to be a very effective test of important critical thinking skills for the BPTC, and will give students a reliable indicator of their likely chances of success before they embark on the BPTC, which can be costly, as we are keenly aware."


Notes to editors

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